Tips on how to write your own song (Part 2)

Ideas and tricks to write your own songs

Hello and welcome to my second post on ideas and tricks to write your own songs, this time I will be talking about a few ways to make a song more interesting, like using chords that are not so usual, changing melodies lines, inverting chords and more!!!

Let’s Begin!!!

Today I will be using as an example the second song that I wrote:

Let’s begin by talking about inspiration, I wrote this song after I met the one that later on would became my wife, songs come from different places, no doubt about it, this song came from the emotion that you  get when you meet someone special, in this case the most special one, that emotion that doesn’t let you think about anything else, and because I couldn’t think about anything else but her, I put those thoughts on paper.

Inspiration is every where, If you are lucky enough you can use those special moments in your life, extract the words out of them and put them down on a paper, then if you continue with the process of writing a song, you will have something special, something like a picture of that moment. For me a song has that power of showing a story of the moment, it doesn’t have to be real it can be fiction but stills it shows a moment in time, that moment can be one day, one thought or even many years, is like a small movie that for everybody looks different, songs many times have different meanings to different people and that is ok, is part of its ethereal form.

I wrote this song in one afternoon but the recording took a little longer, for this song I recorded the main guitar first, then voice, drums were recorded another day by my very good friend Jason Castro.

Songs many times have two different kind of inspirations, one is the theme about what you are writing the lyrics and another part is the musical part, for me this is as important as the other. For this song the musical inspiration was to use guitar chords with the first two strings open, (these chords can be played on any instrument but on guitar works very easily), the key of the song is E (in reality the song was recorded tuning the guitar half tone down to Eb but to make it easier I will talk about E).

The first two chords are: Aadd9 and E:

tips on how to write your own song Aadd9
tips on how to write your own song E

Add9 and E have B and E in common, and by moving some notes but leaving others you can create a beautiful effect, in this case I moved the notes on the lower 4 strings on the guitar, keeping the notes on the 2 high strings still (E and B)

I did the same on the chorus but with a few more chords, the chord progression in the chorus is the following:

Badd11 (on 7th position) – C#m7 (on 9th position) – Badd11 – Aadd9 – E

tips on how to write your own song Badd11
tips on how to write your own song C#m7
tips on how to write your own song Badd11
Aadd9 tips on how to write your own song Aadd9
E tips on how to write your own song E

As you can see E and B notes are in all chords (1st and 2nd strings open), this happen by letting the strings B an E to ring freely in all positions. This effect of not moving some notes  and keeping the others still is great and is used in songs like “Hole Hearted” by Extreme, or “Stop this train” by John Mayer, but also can be used keeping an instrument(s) still and moving others, an example of this is: “Still the one” by Shania Twain, on the chorus of this song (0:51) the backing vocals stay on the same notes while the other instruments change chords, another example of this is Against all odds by Phill Collins, in this case is the bass that doesn’t move, Leland Sklar keeps the root of the last chord of the verse into the first two bars of the Chorus (2:00 – 2:11) creating a great effect, this can be also called a Pedal, it works really good.

Every time there is a chord change the notes that don’t move get a new flavour, a new meaning because of their new relationship inside the new chord, E note sounds totally different on E chord  that it sounds on Badd11 or in C#m7, because on the first one is the root but on the second one is the 4th and on the last one is the 7th.

tips on how to write your own song

For the bridge of my song I decided to take this concept a little further, what I did was:

Badd11 – C#m7 – D#mb6b9 (on 11th position) – E (on 12th position) – D#mb6b9

This 3rd chord which is D#mb6b9 is nothing more than a D#m chord plus those 2 notes, E and B.

tips on how to write your own song D#mb6b9
D#mb6b9 tips on how to write your own song D#mb6b9

Another two interesting tricks that I used in this song to create a bigger climax on the chorus after the bridge (3rd Chorus) is to use power chords with the fifth as the lower note, this is a simple chord inverted but in this case it gives a deeper sound to this chorus.

tips on how to write your own song B5 C#5
B5 C#5 tips on how to write your own song B5 C#5

The second trick to create a bigger climax on the last chorus was, instead of using the normal melody I used a higher version of it, a harmony, because this melody is higher it makes this chorus more powerful, but because it moves like the original it doesn’t sound like something too different. To do this change on this Chorus melody I used the bridge creating a literal bridge for the melody going up until I reached the new one, the higher one.

I also used the concept of keeping notes still while others change on the backing vocals of this song, this changes create really interesting harmonies like diminished intervals, Major sevenths and more!!!.

That’s all for today, I hope this blog gave you a few Ideas for your own songs, great musicians use these tricks, why won’t you? ;),  keep creating and have a great day!!!

Manuel Andrade

Manuel Andrade

Founder / Music teacher

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